How Many Doctors Get Training in Non-Ionizing Radiation related Health Effects?

Published on October 10, 2018

Credit for this post: Dr Pri Bandara Consultant/educator/speaker – Environmental Health

Human exposure to man-made non-ionizing radiation (NIR) has skyrocketed over the last few decades. The prime example is microwave range radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) that has increased by over 10 to the 18 times from extremely low natural levels due to widespread deployment of wireless communication and surveillance technologies.

While there is ongoing scientific debate over the health impact of this environmental pollutant that has demonstrated significant biological/health effects in several thousand peer-reviewed publications, notable medical organizations have declared that people are getting sick from chronic exposure to currently permitted levels or at least accepted health risks, recommending exposure minimisation. There are now published guidelines for diagnosing EMF/EMR-related health problems from the European Academy for Environmental Medicine and the Austrian Medical Association.

European Academy for Environmental Medicine (EUROPAEM):

American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM):

Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (RNCNIRP):

Ministry of Health of Israel: 

While there is no single code in the WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD) Codes for EMF/EMR adverse health effects at this stage, a few codes can be used to identify and diagnose adverse health effects arising from EMF/EMR exposure: code T66 refers to radiation sickness as “Unspecified effects of radiation” (ionizing or non-ionizing radiation), code W90 identifies radiofrequency as a non-ionizing form of radiation, code Z58.4 refers to “Exposure to radiation” (all from ICD-10).

While surveys typically indicate that about 3-10% of populations associate various symptoms (mostly neurological such as headaches) to EMF/EMR exposure, thousands of affected people commonly express their frustration and anger about the lack of knowledge among medical professionals on social media sites. Some very sensitive people lament that a mere visit to a doctor’s room is impossible for them due to common microwave radiation emitting wireless devices which are part and parcel of modern medical facilities. This is a real problem. Currently, only a very small fraction of medical professionals get any training on NIR health effects – only those who chose to undergo postgraduate training courses in environmental medicine.

There is a unfortunately impedance to the flow of knowledge from the research front to clinical medicine due several factors, including apathy at the WHO International EMF Project, described recently in a paper in Int. J. Oncol. by Swedish oncologist (and prolific researcher in EMF) Prof. Lennart Hardell. Meanwhile, the WHO and the UN have so far failed to act on the International EMF Scientist Appeal by 244 scientists from 41 countries (including many clinicians) who have researched in this area and published in peer-reviewed literature.

Training of primary care physicians in EMF/EMR health effects is overdue, but it’s never too late. Medical authorities need to stay tuned to organizations dealing with environmental health such as the Environmental Health Trust in order to meet the changing healthcare needs of the 21st century society. This is clearly a high priority area give the population wide high exposure.

Australian health care professionals can access some training in this area through ACNEM, but there is much more to be done to provide state-of the-art training in NIR.

Physicians’ Health Initiative for Radiation and Environment (PHIRE) in the UK is relatively new medical organisation focused on addressing this issue. PHIRE Founder, Dr. Erica Erica Mallery-Blythe recently gave this very informative presentation at the Children with Cancer UK annual conference.



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